staff photo by alexander simone
Poison ivy is flourishing thanks to recent rains. The threat it poses concerns Marion resident Margaret Wilson. Several plants have been spotted in brush along Central Park’s trails.
When Margaret Wilson started spotting poison ivy Sunday evening at Central Park in Marion, it raised safety concerns for those using park trails.
“I’m a nature girl, so I recognize poison ivy, but a lot of children especially would not,” she said. “Children don’t walk a straight line; they’re skipping and going all over. They’re going to get into it, and it’s awful.”
Seeing the plants spring up at the park is unfortunate timing because Marion recently re-rocked its trail with gravel, and many people are trying to get outdoors more frequently, Wilson said.
“It needs some parental supervision perhaps,” she said. “They’re going to be down here all summer. Children come down here, and that’s what the park is for.”
Reaction to poison ivy often manifests as a rash where oils from the plant spread on a person’s body. The rash can spread if puss-filled liquid from open wounds spreads.
It poses different threats depending on the person, Marion County extension agent Rickey Roberts said.
One of the biggest problems with trying to avoid the plant is identification, he said.
“I think most people have a fear of it but don’t always know what it is,” he said. “Sometimes it’s difficult because it’s growing on something or in something where it’s misplaced. It can’t be there.”
The plant usually grows as a vine with three notched, pointed leaves on each stem, which has red streaks.
There are exceptions, however. Poison ivy can grow tall in search of sunlight, even without a tree or other surface to wrap around, Wilson said.
Poison ivy, which is most prevalent in spring and summer, is not considered a noxious weed by Kansas Department of Agriculture, said Josh Housman, Marion County’s noxious weed supervisor.
Covering up so there is no skin contact is one preventative measure, especially if a person doesn’t know whether he or she is allergic, Roberts said.
“I’d encourage people to avoid it if they can,” he said. “If they can’t avoid it and need to get rid of it, then we need to have respect for that thing. That’s what we talk about with protecting ourselves.”
When disposal is necessary Roberts prefers tracing a plant down and cutting it near the ground, spraying the remaining stem in hope of killing the roots.
Burning is one method Wilson cautioned against because some people can inhale poisonous smoke into their lungs.